3 Reason Why You Should Be Lifting Weights
There has been countless research over the years into why weight training should be a staple in every fitness enthusiasts routine.
Here are 3 of our top reasons why weights are a winner!
1. Increase your fat loss potential
While cardio based exercise still seems to be the go-to genre of fitness for anyone looking to lose weight or burn fat, strength training is now gaining more prominence as a driving force in the fat fighting field.
So why is this?
To keep things simple we consider 2 types of training in their basic forms. Cardio and Strength.
When we do cardio our most common aim is to raise heart rate to a certain level and maintain it for a sustained period (unless doing intervals, but we're keeping this simple). The main effects for us are in our calorie burn and stamina levels - both of which are important for weight control and a healthy lifestyle.
What it doesn't facilitate effectively is the stimulation required for increased muscle growth. In fact, commonly in a cardio based weight programme on average 75% weight loss comes from fat and 25% from muscle tissue. This may seem great if your final goal is purely a weight based one, but not ideal for body composition (more on this later).
A weights based routine is focused on stimulating muscle growth. So why is this important if my goal is to shift excess body fat?
Well here's why - by increasing overall lean muscle mass, you will actually burn more calories over the course of the day. This increase refers to your basal metabolic rate (BMR). The reason you burn more calories is down to the maintenance lean mass requires to sustain itself. Our muscles need fuel to build and repair, so by stimulating muscle fibres into growth and repair we get the added bonus of a faster rate of calorie burn, which as we get older helps us maintain our weight more effectively.
This is backed up by research from Penn State University who trialled 3 groups of dieters to study the effects of fat loss. Group 1 did no exercise, group 2 only aerobic exercise, and group 3 aerobic and weight training.
The results showed that groups 2 and 3 lost on average 21 pounds of weight, but group 3 who included weight training actually lost 6 more pounds of fat.
Cardio can burn around 25% muscle mass on a weight loss programme but by incorporating a weight training routine we can protect that muscle mass and burn calories even more effectively!
The important take-away point: Losing weight should not be the determining factor for fat loss. Instead, use weight training in addition to cardio based training to maximise calorie burn and increase lean muscle mass. In doing so the fat loss % will be higher and results will appear more visible in the mirror.
2. Increase Strength & Performance
Boosting overall strength is something we all need to consider as we get older. If we want to roll back the years gracefully, we must consider a few key points that we tend forget.
- As we get older our BMR begins to reduce.
- Between the ages of 30-50 we will on average lose around 10% of overall muscle mass
- Bone density can diminish
We have already covered why BMR is important. A simplified way of thinking about this is:
Lift weights → Improve strength → Build lean muscle → Increase BMR
We don't want to lose muscle mass as we age so we must be forward thinking and maintain an effective weight training routine. You may ask... Why is losing 10% weight a bad thing?
Well studies have indicated the 10% muscle mass that is lost is most likely replaced by body fat. Now we know muscle weighs more than fat, and because of this, the same 10% weight of fat takes up around 15-20% more volume. In short you might be buying the next clothing size up.
Let's quickly mention bone density here. Studies have shown after the age of 40, bone density can diminish by 1% a year. However, weight training has been shown to slow this process and in other studies it can increase bone density leading to a more active lifestyle as we get older.
The important take-away point: Building strength will not only positively boost athletic performance by allowing you to run faster, jump higher, and lift heavier, but it will allow your body to combat bone density, weight management, and mobility issues that could develop as we grow older.
3. Boost Your Energy Levels
This is something that most people struggle with from time to time and certainly with age comes the desire to sit on the couch more and make that "ohhhft" sound when we try and get up again.
Well one of the reasons that energy levels dip are associated with our bodies testosterone levels. This is true for both men and women.
Weight training has been shown in numerous studies to boost testosterone levels in both men and women. As we get older this too will begin to lower so it is important to maintain ways to keep the bodies testosterone production functioning well.
While men and women process this hormone in varying ways, most studies and medical advice suggest that weight management, improved brain function, and increased energy levels are all a shared benefit we can enjoy.
The important take-away point: If you're looking to increase the bodies natural energy levels, try incorporating some weight training variations 3 times a week to boost the bodies natural testosterone production.
So what more could you need! Weight training in summary has countless benefits that we can all exploit to become stronger, happier and more confident people. So ladies grab your favourite squat proof leggings, and men, your favourite sleeveless tee and let's lift some weight and our spirits.